Carol is my new name. So is “Miss America,” but that’s fairly obvious why considering I was the only American on the trip to Ilha do Cardoso and that nickname wouldn’t be confused with anyone else’s name in the area. But allow me to explain “Carol.”
The most unfortunate American accent is the one that cannot roll its R’s. Thankfully I’ve been able to deal with the rolled R easily and it’s not a problem for me. But since I am American, I heard time and again how Americans can’t pronounce Brazilian Portuguese. Thus, when I was approached on the beach by a group of five people who were traveling on the bus I took, one shouted “Quero!” (as in “I want!”) with an American accent. It sounded like “Care-o!” But I wasn’t listening well and I thought he was calling me “Carol.” So I asked “Who’s Carol?” and for the rest of the time there was a big confusion over “Carol” and “Quero” with no rolled R. Whatever. This story’s going nowhere, much like my train of thought considering I came home at 3am today, a mere three hours before I needed to be up and getting ready for work. Point is: my name was “Carol!” for two days, and as I walked along the beach or sat on the boat or made my way down the hallway in the pousada, I was serenaded with “Carol!” “Carol!” for the entire weekend.
The weekend weather, as you might be able to guess from the photos, was outstanding. It rained the first day until about four in the afternoon, when the skies opened and it was perhaps the most glorious place I’d ever seen. I spent most of that first day growing comfortable talking with people. Like I said before I left, I was nervous about being able to make friends and doing the whole 24 hours a day of Portuguese but I shouldn’t have worried about a thing. I should have known, however, that I’d get sick because of the bus travel. As much as I adore traveling by bus, I get a cold whenever I go, and this time was no different. So here I am sore throat, cold sore, and a general feeling of malaise mixed with depression from having to leave paradise. AND it’s Monday. AND I’ve had three hours of sleep. Strike, strike, strike.
Ilha do Cardoso, like I’d expected, was super rustic. Really simple. But honestly, in a place like that, anything more commercial wouldn’t have worked. They have campgrounds there, trails to waterfalls and natural pools. If I’d seen a tall Holiday Inn I would have laughed and the whole island would have lost its appeal. When you walk along the beach all you can see is the Atlantic, the mountains on the continent, and an occasional abandoned stone building. I spent most of my time in a small space on the beach, alone. It’s not that I didn’t want to see more of the island; it’s that I wanted so much to sit still and not be bothered that walking any great distance would have taken away from the sitting time. I read a little, but much of my time was spent politely trying to end conversations with people who came to visit me as I lay out.
I’m sure I’ve talked about Brazilian bathing suits. The most troubling thing for me is feeling comfortable in them. I can barely get used to the lack of fabric when it’s just me at home, so knowing people would actually see me in my suit made me hyper aware of the presence of other people. Therefore, when people would stop by to see me, I’d get dressed—throw on my skirt, or my shirt. Anything to cover up. So, while I say I spent a lot of time sitting on the beach, most of that time was spent dressing or undressing because other people were around.
During the day, my time was quiet. I thought or slept or walked around or visited with a few people. But at night, it was a totally different experience. The island is a nature preserve like I’d heard about and they don’t use electricity at night. Instead they have huge paper lanterns in red and blue and yellow and they set them up along paths leading from pousadas to bars to the river. At night the two bars come alive, especially before the Forro place opens. There is a live band and everyone dances Forro, which is I guess a kind of dance that’s traditionally Brazilian from the interior of the country. It’s a little back-woodsy, if you catch my drift, but I loved it because it’s about a trazillion times easier to dance than Samba which I’m fairly certain I’ve given up learning. Forro is just four simple steps: two to the left, two to the right. That’s it. I can do four steps. But shaking each individual bone in my body independent of the others like you have to do in Samba? Forget it.
So now I’m back after a full day of teaching and just about twelve hours of traveling by foot, boat, bus, and taxi, and I am exhausted. The one saving grace of this entire day is the fact that I received a care package from my mom. In it is Johnny Cash’s autobiography, and about a month’s supply of Dunkin Donuts. Nice.
I really need to sleep. Tchau, gente.